A comparison of delay discounting in adolescents and adults in treatment for cannabis use disorders

Dustin C. Lee, Catherine Stanger, Alan J. Budney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delay discounting is associated with problematic substance use and poorer treatment outcomes in adolescents and adults with substance use disorders. Although some research has addressed delay discounting among individuals with cannabis use disorders (CUDs), results have been equivocal, and no study has examined whether discounting rates differ between adolescent and adult cannabis users. The aim of this study was to compare discounting rates between adolescents and adults in treatment for CUD to determine whether discounting at intake or changes in discounting across treatment differed between age groups. Participants were 165 adolescents and 104 adults enrolled in treatment for CUD. Participants completed a delay discounting task at intake and end of treatment for 2 commodities (money and cannabis) at 2 different magnitudes ($100 and $1,000). Repeated measures mixed models examined differences in discounting rates by commodity and magnitude across age groups at intake and changes in discounting across treatment. At intake, adolescents discounted money more than adults whereas adults showed greater discounting at $100 magnitude than $1,000. In addition, adults had greater decreases in discounting of cannabis over the course of treatment. Overall, adolescents appeared less sensitive to changes in magnitude of rewards, discounted money at higher rates, and showed less improvement in discounting over the course of treatment compared to adults. Comparing delay discounting in adolescents and adults with CUD can contribute to a better understanding of how development influences the effect of discounting on substance use to better inform treatment for substance use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental and clinical psychopharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Cannabis
  • Discounting
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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